At the end of CFAR's July Rationality Minicamp, we had a party with people from the LW/SIAI/CFAR community in the San Francisco Bay area. During this party, I had a conversation with the girlfriend of a participant in a previous minicamp, who was not signed up for cryonics (her boyfriend was). The conversation went like this:

me: So, you know what cryonics is?

her: Yes

me: And you think it's a good idea?

her: Yes

me: And you are not signed up yet?

her: Yes

me: And you would like to be?

her: Yes

me: Wait a minute while I get my laptop.

And I got my laptop, pointed my browser at Rudi Hoffman's quote request form1, and said, "Here, fill out this form". And she did.

The hard part of all that was identifying a cryocrastinator, by which I mean someone who believes they should be signed up for cryonics, but for whatever reason, hasn't actually signed up. Once I know that I am talking to such a person, just giving them an actionable first step to do right now gets them to do that step.

Previously to the party, I had held an "unconference" seminar for cryocrastinating minicampers in which I did a scaled up version of the same thing. For this I told everyone in advance to bring their own laptops, and I gave them the URL. (There was some confusion about the target audience of this seminar, and some people who were not yet convinced it was a good idea for them came expecting more of a discussion. They had no trouble expressing this, and were not required to fill out the form.) At the party, I did this for one other person2.

What I have observed to work so far is that people will take the first step of filling out the quote request form when I make it easy for them. I am counting on Rudi to get them through the rest of the process, so they end up actually signed up. Rudi has agreed to track success rates of these people getting through the whole process, and I plan to check in with him in early December, and report back.

I was planning to write this up when I had the full results, but seeing this story of a young woman with brain cancer forced to beg to raise funds at the last minute reminded me that cryocrastinators are running out of time (even though getting brain cancer young is rare, there are cryocrastinators of all ages who aren't aware of when life insurance will become unaffordable). So I thought it would be good to let people know now how easy it is to get that cryocrastinator you know to get started signing up.

Again, all you have to do is establish that they want to be signed up for cryonics but aren't, and put this form in front of them and tell them that filling it out is the first step. Rudi will take them through the rest of it. And if you yourself are cryocrastinating, take a few minutes for your first step in signing up by filling out the form.


(If you do not already think cryonics is a good idea, I do not expect you to follow any of the advice in this article. I wrote this for the benefit of all the people who do think cryonics is a good idea, but are having trouble actually signing up. You may be interested in trying to generalize the technique for other forms of procrastination, however.)




1. Yes, Rudi Hoffman will make some money off of this. He should, as he is putting in professional hours to provide a valuable service. But the motivation behind this article is to get people to sign up for cryonics. Other paths with other first steps are welcome, as is any advice for people outside the United States.

2. I am not naming the other people involved. They can opt in to identifying themselves if they want.

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me: So, you know what cryonics is?

her: Yes

me: And you think it's a good idea?

her: Yes

me: And you are not signed up yet?

her: Yes

me: And you would like to be?

her: Yes

You might have wanted to use a control question (e.g. "How many days are in a week?"), just to check if she'd have answered "yes" to that, too.

I assume the whole point was to create a compliance ladder (aka yes ladder). It's the same technique used to sell cars, close business deals, or seduce others. It's at least as old as Dale Carnegie's "How to Win friends...etc", and probably older than English.

A single 'no' breaks the pattern just as drastically as a single non-conformist destroys the Asch conformity experiment. If he wanted to find out true answers, a control question would be useful. But if he wanted her to actually sign up for cryonics, an unbroken chain of 'yes' would be essential.

The point was to establish that she really did want to sign up for cryonics. It wouldn't be a big surprise to me if getting that "Yes" sequence is a way to influence people, but it's not what I was going for. I had previously done this on a room full of people, without going through the "Yes" chain, and whatever influences there were from me addressing a group or whatever, people who would answer "no" to some of those questions did decide not to fill out the form. I am not trying to trick people into signing up for cryonics. I am trying get those who think they should be signed up to actually do it.
You tapped into a powerful persuasive technique unintentionally. Although I think 'trick' is too negative a connotation. Many things can influence decisions, such as being well dressed, or attractive, or using the right lingo. It's nothing more than effective communication to speak to your target in the most impactful way. It's hard for me to think something as manipulative, when it's getting them to do something they already want and it's good for them as well.
Xacariah, would a positive 'no' break the chain, i.e. 'would you like to be annihilated?'?
Sort of. Yes ladders function in two ways. One is commitment and consistency effects. Each question has the answerer define themselves in a way that makes them more likely to agree with subsequent questions and, eventually, the final conclusion. A positive no would still build up consistency effects. The other way they work is by 'turning off your brain'. Shopping and similar decision making is controlled by a tug-of-war between the NAcc and the insula. A proper yes ladder lets the seller steer the conversation to the sale, without ever triggering the insula. If you have the buyer stop and think about something (eg, should my answer be yes or no?), it inhibits your ability to sell. You want them to just trust in you without ever activating the parts of their brain designed for second guessing. That means a lot of 'no brainer' questions. Positive no's don't necessarily do this, but it's a lot harder to build a safe positive no question, when you could just use a yes instead. Hence, I was always taught to just steer clear of them. (In retrospect, it this tactic does sound slightly more dark artsy than when I was replying to JGWeisnman about it)

Well, submitting a quote request form as a "Yes Y. Yes born on Yes.Yes.Yes" would not lead to anything anyway, so why bother with extra steps?

This was a snippet of the conversation, from memory. I already had reason to believe she wasn't a "Yes" bot.

Aw, sorry she turned you down. :-)

It would have been pretty impressive if I actually did get a girl to sign up for cryonics after she turned me down for a date.

Rejection therapy for advanced students.

"So, maybe later then?"

Missed opportunity! If you've got a yes-bot, use a control question with higher expected value like, "Do you hereby grant power of attorney to me over your estate?" (I know, you technically need more documentation for such a big transfer...)

Another nudge: Once you sign up for Cyrogenics, Robin Hanson will chat with you about anything you want.

Intentional typo from... Cyrus?

I'm not currently aware of anyone living in Finland who has successfully signed for cryonics. I'm aware of someone who tried to sign up with Alcor, but was deterred by the international complexities involved with setting up the financing. There's a very fledgling Finnish cryonics society, and I think some of them have talked about arrangements with KrioRus, but I don't think I've ever heard of even the founders talk about actually having a specific cryonics arrangement for themselves.

Ciphergoth is in UK, and I think he has managed to sign up. Anyone from the non-anglosphere Europe successfully signed up? Anyone know of anyone from the non-anglosphere Europe ever actually being successfully cryopreserved?

European balkanization messes up all sorts of long tails.

9Paul Crowley11y
I am signed up with Cryonics Institute, with standby and transport from Cryonics UK.
Looks like their website has been taken over by spam. Which in turn gives me very little confidence in an organization that's supposed to be around until my death and for many years afterwards. Do you know anything about the current state of play in the UK? Are you still covered?
2Paul Crowley7y
Longevity is much less of a concern with CUK; they don't do storage, only standby and transport. I live in the Bay Area now.

I publicly endorse Rudi Hoffman's service. Dealing with him has been a pleasure.

If anyone else dislikes Rudi the way I do (and doesn't need his help to get signed up at all), my life insurance company is pretty okay; they're called New York Life. I picked them off a list of cryo-friendly insurance companies Alcor provided in an info packet (even though I went with CI) and they have been very responsive and are willing to conduct all relevant business without the use of telephones (which criterion is part of how I narrowed down said list).

Can you elaborate on why you don't like Rudi? (Or, if you've already done so, provide a link?) (PM is also fine if you'd prefer.)
About how much work did it take you to set up your policy?
Modest, doable amounts of paperwork; and a guy came to my house to get samples and I had uncooperative veins so that took awhile.
Thanks. "Modest" and "doable" are relative; how many hours did you put in?
I wasn't timing it and am extremely prone to multitasking, so I can give you no reliable amount.
Was it more like 1 hour, 10 hours, or 100 hours? Also, about how many days total went by between receiving the paperwork and completing it?
It was probably more like 1 hour than like 10. I don't remember.
Can you elaborate on your reason for choosing CI? Was it driven by reasons other than cost?

The websites for both are poorly designed and the only thing I could figure out was that maybe under some circumstances CI was cheaper. Not being able to distinguish between relevant features, and feeling it fairly urgent that I stop dithering and start signing up, I blatantly substituted Eliezer's judgment for my own and went with the one he picked.

Eliezer's judgement was that he had to get signed up to convince people to do the same. And he didn't have much money.
Why the urgency? Even assuming that cryonics works as advertised (which is probably a very strong assumption, but I digress), it's probably a bad idea to sign up before 45 - 50. You are very unlikely to die younger, and if you do, whatever kills you will probably destroy much of your brain before you can be cryopreserved. Sure, life insurance prices go up with age, but assuming a normal career you will probably more than compensate with increased income and possibly savings.
By default, one does not sign up at all. I wanted to sign up at all. So I decided to prioritize getting on that. (I don't claim to be able to follow any relevant math about the value of life insurance at various ages.) I am not arranging my life in such a way that I expect my income to follow a particular trend.
Source? Sure, the leading cause of death below about 35 seems to be car accidents (and traumatic injuries in general), but looking at, that's still only about 41% violent accidents, furthermore, from these sources it looks like only about 1/3 of deaths by traumatic injury are due to traumatic brain injury, so -- bumping that up to 1/2, since an injury can involve TBI without that being the "cause of death" -- we have about a 20.5% chance of brain trauma given death by injury. Add 27% for homocide (~13%) and suicide (~14%), after which I assume you're unlikely to cryonically preserved soon enough, and you've got about a 50% chance of cryonics being applicable if you do die. Surely some people would find that sufficient reason to sign up, unless I've missed something? (This pseudo-survey of figures was hacked together quickly very late at night when I wondered about the statistics of it.)
Patterns-Of-Injury-MVAS: "In the western world, the most common cause of death after trauma is severe brain injury." Moreover, other than direct traumatic injury, the brain can be also damaged by ischemia: 4-6 minutes of cardiac arrest are typically enough to cause irreversible brain injury, and more than one hour will pretty much destroy the brain tissue. According to that article: "In modern day civilian trauma centres, thoracic injury directly accounts for 20-25% of deaths due to trauma; thoracic injury or its complications are a contributing factor in a further 25% of trauma deaths [24]." "Aortic injuries cause or contribute to 15% of MVA fatalities[25]. Most patients with blunt aortic injury die before they reach hospital, and the vast majority will have major coexisting thoracic and extrathoracic injuries[26]." I'm not a doctor, but if I understand correctly, this means that most victims of fatal accidents, even those without traumatic brain injury, will reach the hospital already in cardiac arrest or with some condition that will progress to cardiac arrest within few hours. I suppose that in order to arrange prompt cryopreservation you need at least 1 - 2 days of warning. So, according to your stats, I would say that in the age group you consider, about 70% of deaths wouldn't allow prompt cryopreservation. Factor in the fact that you are unlikely to die in that age group anyway, and you cryonics at that age is probably not worth the cost, even assuming that it works as advertised. Of course, this ultimately depends on how much you value your life versus your money: I suppose that manypeople have a knee-jerk reaction and say that they value their life an essentially infinite amount of money, but their actual preferences revealed by their spending behavior will probably be different.
Also, if you are very young, it's likely that anti-agathics will be invented during your natural lifespan, and you'll achieve negligible senescence without ever being vitrified and reanimated in the first place. You know, ‘normal’ careers are becoming rarer and rarer these days. There are lots of people in late twenties or thirties today who haven't found a stable job yet. (My mother is in her forties and she still hasn't...)
In that case paying premiums would be quite difficult
I dunno, how much cheaper are they if one buys life insurance when in their 20s? IIRC they are very cheap for First World standards.
IIRC, when people asked him why he had chosen CI whereas Robin Hanson had chosen Alcor, he said he didn't have that much money but Hanson did, so of course he would pick the cheap option and Hanson the high-end one.
Well, that works out. I don't have much money either.
That's an interesting criterion. Why was that so important to you? I was under the impression you weren't deaf.

Not deaf, just hate phones and am very much aware of my tendency to just not make calls even when I really should.

5Swimmer963 (Miranda Dixon-Luinenburg) 11y
I have the same tendency... I find it a lot of work to hold a conversation even with a friend–my mom is pretty much the only person I can comfortably have a phone chat with, probably because she has a very loud, clear voice and because she isn't unpredictable. Calling strangers, or answering a call which I think is from a stranger i.e. my phone/Internet provider company, is stressful. I'll put off phone calls as long as I possibly can, although I'm not sure if it's because of the anxiety or just because they're more time consuming than writing an email. I've been working on this by forcing myself to offer to make any necessary phone calls at my current job (at the hospital). This is stressful because a) it's usually to strangers, i.e. a patient's family, a doctor, or the X-ray department, and b) it's in French, my second language. The act of saying "oh, I'll take care of that phone call for you" is both easy and rewarding, because I like being really really helpful, and then once I've said I'll do it, I'm committed and I have to do it. Weirdly enough, I'm still scared to answer the phone at work. Disliking answering phones is part of a long list of semi-phobias I had as a kid–ordering food in restaurants, going up to the checkout to buy things in stores, etc. I still get anxious ordering drinks in a bar. It feels like this is part of the same category as my phone-phobia.
So, I'm not the only one. (I've partly overcome this, but I still prefer to only use the telephone for extremely short conversations (30 seconds or less) or when it's the only available medium for communicating with a given person.
Yep, same here. My hearing is fine, but trying to understand speech through a telephone is a chore unless I'm in a very quiet room, and even then I can't hear the other party if they interrupt me.
Is it possible that you have an auditory processing disorder? My fiancee has it and this sounds pretty much like her experience with phones.
Mm. I'll make an appointment with my doctor today.
Cell phones have notably worse audio quality than landlines. Are landline-to-landline calls also a problem?
It's been a while since I've used a landline. Since the quality is better, I'd expect there to be less of a problem.
Do you know what the reason for your phone aversion is?
Partly the fact that speech on the phone is sometimes harder to understand, and partly some kind of aversion to non-trivial conversations with someone I don't have visual contact with, where written text counts as visual. Not sure why that is.
I have some aversion to phone calls and prefer skype's visual connection. My guess is that's because if I don't have anything to focus my eyes on, I'm more likely to see my body language and notice I'm nervous. And noticing that might make me more nervous. I'm unsure whether I experience anything similar with email - I think I like email because I can take more time to reply.
I have a friend who is like that, although she does not like emails, either. Not sure about skype. I could never elicit a coherent explanation from her why physical presence is so important for information exchange. Must be some genetic factor.
There's an emotional side-channel face to face, from expressions and body-language. All unconscious until you start to learn how it works, but it's still there. It helps to avoid misunderstandings, talking at cross purposes, accidental offence, etc. Missing that side channel is why e-mails and posts turn into flame wars, and writing clearly enough and reading carefully enough to avoid all these things makes e-mails take endless time compared with face-to-face. Same with written letters, of course. Perhaps your friend had some early bad experiences with phone calls and e-mails caused by this, and formed an aversion?
I greatly prefer conversation (face-to-face or phone call, they seem similar) because the bandwidth and latency are so much better. And I avoid writing e-mails to the point where I phone back if it's important and don't answer otherwise. Like text messages, they only seem useful to communicate one-to-many or if you don't want to disturb someone. (And for flirting!) Anyone agree, and have we discovered an interesting difference here or is it just a preference? I'm forty-two, but I'm fairly technologically sophisticated and had e-mail from twenty-one on (and far prefer it to writing letters!)
I loathe phones with a deep and personal passion. I can function well in text, and I can do just fine in person, but my conversation skills just fail miserably with the combination of time pressure and missing non-verbal cues on the telephone.
I really couldn't say; my dislike of using telephones follows straight from being hard of hearing, so I have no idea what my preferences would or would not be in a counterfactual universe.
I like phones. (for me skype call is basically the same as a phone call). But i mostly use loud speaker. I could imagine a few more reasons why someone wouldnt like phones. It seems odd to make this an actual criterion, but good if companies can deal with it.

Hi, thanks for the link, I just went and filled out Rudi's form, just in case. However, I'm not expecting it to do any good as I'm a UK citizen.

A while ago, ciphergoth gave me an e-mail address for a UK cryonics organisation, and I tried it, but I got no response from them, and I think a couple of other Cambridge types have tried to make contact and got no response, which makes me think that they may not be that reliable at showing up quickly at death scenes either.

CI seem cheap at $28000, so even though I'm not at all sure that a copy of me waking up know... (read more)

Alcor list a UK based agent on their website, which might be a better bet if Rudi doesn't work out.
Eerrm, obviously one good solution is 'move to America', but that's a big change to make for a long shot. I like it here!

filling out the form, thank you

I'm wondering if there is any selfish reason to want procryostinators to sign up, other than hoping that more participants would improve the odds of your favorite cryo outfit surviving until the time revival becomes feasible, or that more research would go into it?

More people signing up reduces the social stigma attached to being signed up.

Convincing people to sign up lets you write articles about how you did it, which generate karma.

Having more people signed up increases knowledge about cryonics generally, and increases the odds that your wishes will be followed on your death.

People who you convinced to sign up sooner who then die promptly may feel obligated to you after they're revived.

Social stigma? I think it's cool. I actually have trouble admitting to my friends that the courage of my convictions is so lacking that I haven't got round to actually signing up yet.
Scaling effects. Both in social stigma, infrastructure in cases of emergency, actual costs, research and what not. With the current low amount of people who are signed every additional person actually improves the condition.
Some of them are my friends.
2Paul Crowley11y
This may be rationalization, but more signed up people means more people with one foot in the future, who therefore may be more likely to save the world and therefore me :)

Aside from the problem with the yes chains, I suspect that a lot of people, when answering "yes" to "do you think that (unusual subject) is a good idea", mean "to the extent that I've studied it, it seems to be a good idea, but I haven't studied it a whole lot". They may not, in fact, be certain enough of it to go out and do it, even though they would verbally describe it as a good idea.

I was planning to write this up when I had the full results, but seeing this story of a young woman with brain cancer forced to beg to raise funds at the last minute reminded me that cryocrastinators are running out of time (even though getting brain cancer young is rare, there are cryocrastinators of all ages who aren't aware of when life insurance will become unaffordable).

Hm. Based on the research I did, there's no special advantage life-insurance-wise to signing up early. This makes sense from an economics point of view--there's no reason in particular for life insurance providers to give you an especially good deal just because you signed up early.

The premiums do go up as the age at which you start a whole life insurance policy increases. Unless when you are delaying you are saving the money you would have paid in premiums (and investing it as well as the insurance issuer would) to subsidize the higher premiums later (no one is actually doing that), getting life insurance is going to get increasingly expensive as you age. Unless you are increasing your income to match, this makes it less affordable. It's not that the insurance provider is giving a good deal for signing up early, it's that life insurance is like an investment with risk management added on, and starting early gives your investment more time to grow.
Actually, isn't there at least one respect signing up early does sort of subsidize yourself? The people who die after paying some premiums but lapsing and so never collect - the earlier you sign up, the more those lapsers subsidize the rest of their cohort who manage to keep up their premiums to the point of self-funding.
Yes, this also makes signing up early a better deal, provided you think you are less likely than average to lapse and lose coverage.
Hey, this is a site about rationality. I'll bet at least a few people save their money or donate to charity instead of buying stuff they don't really need.

I'll bet at least a few people save their money or donate to charity instead of buying stuff they don't really need.

That sounds like a bet you would win. However, the thing I claim no one is actually doing is taking the money they would be spending on whole life insurance premiums, and investing it as well as an insurance provider would, for the purpose of later subsidizing the larger premiums they would have to pay for whole life insurance when they are older. That would be a crazy thing to do, as it is more work, more risk in resources that are sub-linearly instrumentally valued, and doesn't cover you during the time you are investing instead of paying premiums.

It's only a crazy thing to do if you are pretty sure you will need/want the insurance for the rest of your life. If you aren't sure, then you are paying a bunch of your investment money for insurance you might decide you don't need (and in fact, you definitely won't need financially once you have self-funded). If you are convinced that cryonics is a good investment, and don't have the money to fund it out of current capital, then that seems like a good reason to buy some kind of life insurance, and a universal life policy is probably one of the better ways to do it. It's probably a bit more expensive than buying term life and investing the difference[1], if you can and will invest reasonably well (it's not actually all that complicated, but it is just enough so to be vulnerable to akrasia problems). Someone who geeks out on financial decisions and doesn't find them uncomfortable or boring work may be better off doing it themselves. Others should go for the UL policy. If you have the money to fund it, some kind of trust is likely to be a much cheaper option for legal protection than an insurance policy. [1] there are some tax advantages to investing within the UL that can make it less expensive than term+invest for those who have already maxed out their tax-deferred savings in 401(k)/IRA/etc.
Whole life insurance, yes. Term life insurance (which pays nothing unless you die during the specified time period), no. And the "cheap" premiums cited by cryonics people are for term life insurance.

I was explicitly talking about whole life insurance, which I advocate using for cryonics, and which I use myself. It is more expensive initially, but it lets you lock in your premiums when you are young and healthy.

If you do use term life insurance, it is cheaper when you are young because you are less likely to die during the term. But, unless you have a plan for how to fund your cryonic suspension after you survive the term, using it to fund cryonics is crazy.

I do not endorse citing the premiums for term life insurance as the cost of cryonics.

On the form, there is a question about Nicotine Usage. Is nicotine usage being conflated with smoking here?